A Summer of Science Writing by Christianna Lewis

by   |  08.04.11  |  Honors Student Achievements

Every journalist should get to interview a chatty British lady. It’s just a complete joy to listen to British accents, and English phrases make for wonderfully quirky quotes. This and many other pleasures have made this summer in New Hampshire an unforgettable time in my life.

I’m over halfway done with my two-month summer internship at Dartmouth Medicine magazine, and have only finished two articles so far. In the newspaper world, which I am far more familiar with than the magazine world, this would be totally unacceptable.  But these articles are based on research published by the Dartmouth staff. Much more data must be sifted through, the researchers take longer to get a hold of, and at least drafts of the article are passed around four people before it can be approved.

But I have loved every step of the process. I love reading the research publications and seeing all their graphs and data. I love talking to the scientists and learning how their research question came up, or how they thought of a new solution to an old problem. And I love telling their stories, crystallizing their discoveries and conclusions for general audiences to understand and enjoy.

Today I began to write my most daunting assignment – a 1500 profile of the new chair of the Department of Pathology. The work is not as hard as it sounds, because the chair happens to be the talkative British woman I so loved to listen to. It turns out that she is someone that I would absolutely read a 1500 article to learn about, so I hope I can entice readers to do the same. This will be the longest news article I have written in my very short career as a journalist, so I did five additional interviews, just in case. My editor almost rolled her eyes when she heard that.

In the afternoons I get to walk along the Connecticut River, enjoying the evergreens and the midsummer blossoms. The weather here is wonderful, temperatures peaking in the mid 80s on most days. This weekend it’s going to get into the 90s, and the state sent out a weather heat alert. I’m already getting excited to head back to Texas next month, but I don’t mind spending another four weeks here. Anyway, I still have a lot more British quotes to squeeze into my article.